Several years ago my wife and I while in Las Vegas decided to tour Hoover Dam. Needless to say it was a magnificent sight. During the visit we learned about the Dam’s construction and its generation of power. However, there was something very intriguing that we discovered. Although it has enormous turbines that are able to produce tons of energy it produces nothing if the gates are closed. That means its ability to produce energy only happens when the gates are opened and water is allowed to pour through them. A similar truth came to me the first time I visited the Holy Land. The guide took us to the Sea of Galilee which is alive with fish; afterwards he showed us the Dead Sea which is dead—salty, incapable of supporting any life. Both are filled with the very same water from the Jordan River. However, there is a great difference between the two. The Sea of Galilee gives all its water back. It takes the Jordan in from the north and gives it back to the river in the south. The Dead Sea takes in the water of the Jordan and holds onto all of it giving nothing back. The same can be said of love. It is only energized when given away. Imagine a young bride being told she is loved by her husband but he never releases that love. Their marriage would lack energy because energy is produced by the gift of love. This is true of any relationship. Oscar Hammerstein in The Sound of Music said it best, “A bell is no bell til you ring it. A song is no song til you sing it. And love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay---Love isn’t love Til you give it away.” You want to be energized—love God and your neighbor as yourself. In other words give it all away, then you will experience love’s ultimate energy.
Sunday, April 19, 2015
The story is told of a famous tightrope walker named Jean Francois Gravelet, who was known professionally as the Great Blondin. Blondin was famous for balancing on thin wires and walking across just about any chasm. No height or stunt was too great. On June 30, 1859, he became the first man in history to walk on a tightrope across Niagara Falls. Over twenty-five thousand people gathered to watch him walk 1,100 feet suspended on a tiny rope 160 feet above the raging waters. He worked without a net or safety harness of any kind. The slightest slip would prove fatal. When he safely reached the Canadian side, the crowd burst into a mighty roar. One reporter applauded his success and said enthusiastically, “I bet you could even do that pushing a wheelbarrow.” Sure enough, Blondin did. The reporter was blown away and exclaimed: “I bet you could even walk across with a person in the wheelbarrow.” Blondin replied. “If you’re so sure, hop in the wheelbarrow. You can be that person.” At that point the reporter’s faith waned and he declined. The ability to believe is a powerful thing. Yet, there is distinction between believing in something and believing it. For example, there are people who believe in airplanes, but they are afraid to fly. They say planes are a good thing, but they do not believe a plane will carry them safely to their destination. Similarly, there’s a big difference between believing in God and believing God. Those who walk the walk of faith know that God exists but their belief goes far beyond that. They know God can do all things. They’re not afraid to get in the wheelbarrow when the Creator is working on a tightrope and it doesn’t get too risky or outlandish for them to follow. They do not walk according to feelings but facts because they know the word of God is more absolute than mathematical equations or scientific speculations. He’s God and they are never afraid to trust Him.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
The subject of scars is one that everyone can identify with because most if not all bear the marks of one. And it goes without saying every scar carries its own story. That’s why the old adage “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” seems to apply to every generation. When you read scripture you find that Christ bore scars upon his body. So did the apostle Paul who stated, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” If we took the time in any given family gathering or church service it would be amazing the stories that could be told as to how people received theirs. For many the memory of that story might produce great pain, especially, if those scars are connected with sin or some heart-breaking event. This might be the case because we tend to look at our scars as being negative. Yet, it’s amazing to me that after the resurrection Jesus appeared with scars in his hands, feet, and side. Being the Lord of glory, you know he could have reappeared without any indelible sign of physical abuse or death, but he chose not to. Just as amazing is the fact that He draws attention to his post--resurrection scars inviting the disciples to look and even to touch them. Why would he do such a thing? Roger Fredrickson in his commentary on John states, “These scars are the marks that prove the crucified Jesus is the risen Christ. These wounds are also His credentials in ministering to all suffering humanity. They are the scars that the church, His body on earth, must bear if it is to continue the authentic ministry of Jesus.” In essence scars can be a good thing. The crucified Christ chose not to remove his scars but raise attention to them because they were proof of his overwhelming victory. That’s why we the church must appear to the world not being marred but scared. These scars are the testimony that we have weathered the storms of opposition and prevailed. They are the witness of our victorious survival. In Jesus’ life they were evidence that the weapons of the enemy did not prosper, because even in death God gave deliverance. This reality gives us great hope because when those struggling and battle weary ask “Is it possible to make it” our response can be “Yes! Let me show you my scars!”
Sunday, April 5, 2015
I read recently about professional golfer Paul Azinger who was diagnosed with cancer at age 33. He had just won a PGA championship and had ten tournament victories to his credit. He wrote, "A genuine feeling of fear came over me. I could die from cancer. Then another reality hit me even harder. I’m going to die eventually anyway, whether from cancer or something else. It’s just a question of when. Everything I had accomplished in golf became meaningless to me. All I wanted to do was live.” Then he remembered something that Larry Moody, who teaches a Bible study on the tour, had said to him. "Zinger, we’re not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We’re in the land of the dying trying to get to the land of the living." Azinger recovered with chemotherapy returned to the PGA tour and did well. He spent almost 300 weeks in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Ranking between 1988 and 1994 earning nearly $14.5 million in his career. But that bout with cancer deepened his perspective. He wrote, "I’ve made a lot of money since I’ve been on the tour, and I’ve won a lot of tournaments, but that happiness is always temporary. The only way you will ever have true contentment is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not saying that nothing ever bothers me and I don’t have problems, but I feel like I’ve found the answer to the six-foot hole." Is that not the truth Jesus was trying to convey to Mary and Martha at the tomb of Lazarus? His declaration of being the resurrection and the life provided the answer for the death of his beloved friend as well as for all of humanity. That’s why we feel encouraged during Easter. This day is not one of mourning but of celebration because we know that death may hound us but it will never hold us. Because He lives we live also. In Him alone we find the answer to the “six foot hole.”